Monday, April 30, 2007
My technology update
32 inches wide, lighter than the old television. The manual was on a CD in PDF format. It took us an hour or so to set it up, mostly because the cable feed attached to one set of connectors, and the DVD player to another; I wasn't sure whether the unit would see input from more than one source. But once that was sorted out, I was impressed with the picture quality.
So now I'm presented with a quandry: I want to play with my new electronic toy -- but all I can with it is watch television!
And now what do I do with the old television? I grew up in a time when a television was an expensive piece of electronics, so I can't just throw it out in the trash.
Technocrati tags: television
Friday, April 27, 2007
Last night: not the last Portland BarCamp meetup
First, despite expectations to the contrary, Dawn Foster announced that because of the usefulness and interest in these monthly meetups, that they would continue at least for the rest of the year. This is a good thing: too often the various tech groups around Portland become insular and inbred, unaware that there are other people in the area who are doing interesting things. (I remember how the PLUG meetings used to fill this kind of need, but since the tech downturn five or seven eyars ago, it has lost some of this ability.)
Both Dawn and Raven Zachary were excited that this BarCamp would be the first to offer "bubble tea". I'm still not sure what this is, but experiencing this alone might be worth attending this free event.
Raven showed some slides about the BarCamp next month, and explained some things about DemoCamp, which will be held in the same place at the same time: DemoCamp will be a form of "speed-geeking", short presentations about companies or new products -- but where PowerPoint presentations will be forbidden.
After this, the floor was turned over to Tara Hunt and Chris Messina of The Citizen Agency, who discussed the origins and culture of BarCamp. These gatherings were created in response to the invitation-only "FooCamp" that Tim O'Reilly held each year in Sevastopol, California: Chris, and three other guys vented that they had not been invited during a car trip together, offended over feeling excluded from this event. However, instead of getting mad, they talked about starting their own fork of FooCamp, called "BarCamp", and a week later, when it still sounded like a good idea, made it happen.
They explained that idea of a BarCamp is to create an open, respectful place where individuals can share their passion for their own technology-related activites. By "technology-related", they meant not simply programming or doing neat things with hardware: some of the most popular sessions were about activities that support technology development such as how to promote blogs or other online communities. This put me in mind of a topic I thought about discussing at this year's Recent Changes Camp -- "About bringing a knife to a snowball fight." I didn't do it then because I couldn't think of what to say about this metaphor except that it is sometimes a useful metaphor to describe conflicts in online communities. With six program tracks in need of material, I might suggest it at the Portland BarCamp.
Tara and Chris provided a number of interesting cases of how BarCamps have successfully connected people not only inside the geek community, but also to people outside of it. Listening to these examples, I can't help but be excited about this coming event in May.
Technocrati tags:BarCamp Portland, Portland BarCamp
Labels: portland tech
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Wikimania is on for 2007
I'm hoping that the Wikimania Lounge proposed by Andrew Lih/Fuzheado and Daveydweeb comes to fruition. That would be a good thing not only for yours truly, but for the rest of us Wikipedians who can't afford to visit Taiwan.
Technocrati tags: taiwan, wikipedia
The results of some more Wikipedia research
According to this table, as of September, 2006 (latest date available), the English Wikipedia contains over 609 million words. I'll leave it to someone else to determine whether we talk about our problems too much.
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Another essay worth reading
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
Monday, April 23, 2007
I guess I'm not Web 2.0-compatible
What I found was an uninformative table of contents, and that a copy of this report cost $279.00. And that there's an intreguing graphic on Rubel's page that uses the metaphor of a ladder to explain depths of participation.
This was the point where I was planning to pontificate about how non-proprietary solutions were created because someone couldn't afford to pay for a proprietary solution. The example I had in mind was Linus Torvalds posting a request to Usenet, asking for a copy of the POSIX standard so he could accurately write his own version of UNIX -- only to discover how much a copy of those standards cost; so he reverse-engineered his own version. (Yes, this became Linux.) Then again, he wasn't entirely on his own in writing his own version of UNIX from scratch: he did have a couple informative books to draw on like Andrew Tanenbaum's Operating Systems: Design and Implementation. And I was going to comment about the graphic being pretty.
But the more I stared at that graphic, the more puzzled it left me.
For example, it stated that 52% of an on-line comunity were "Inactives" -- which I understood meant that they were lurkers, the folks who watched the content being being created, but never made their presence known. Then I noticed that there was a group called "Spectators", who were 33% of the community, and from the definition of that group, they better fit the description of lurkers. So who was this 52%? The type of people who said things like "One of these days, I'm going to read Wikipedia so I can be part of this cool Web 2.0 thing"?
Then I started adding up the percentages of the several groups, and found that not only did they fail to total to 100%, I couldn't figure out a way to juggle the figures so that they would total 100%. By this, I mean maybe each group was a subset of the group immediately below it on the ladder: the 13% who were creators were a subset of the 19% who were critics (because 13 is smaller than 19, and this would imply that 13% of the community both criticize and create, but 6% only criticize) but then I found that the 15% who were collectors didn't fit so nicely inside of 19%. Maybe the groups overlap each other to some degree; I was left with the impression that someone had baked up some conclusions, maybe did some research (or did not), and was glad I learned all of this without having to spend $279.00. (And it's very possible that someone like Ross Mayfield has already stated everything that might be useful in that report in this post, where it can be read for free.) One thing I'm certain about is that I'll hear from someone about my conclusions, demanding that I explain how I could write that a research paper I had never read was worthless.
Update: For an example of the kind of diagram I was hoping to find, consider Evan Prodromou's diagram illustrating "crowdsourcing" from his presentation last month at SXSW, which can be seen on Angela Beesley's blog with copious notes and links. I have yet to hear his presentation (or view his slides), yet from that one diagram I know exactly what he has to say.
Technocrati tags: new media, participation ladder,web 2.0
Sunday, April 22, 2007
And now he's blocked
And then there is the challenge of explaining just why Brandt dislikes Wikipedia. In brief, he doesn't want Wikipedia to contain an article about him. Why that article is so offensive to him, why he created at least one website critical of Wikipedia, and why he had a hand in driving at least one Wikipedia Admin off of the project -- well, you'll have to ask him.
So, busy with trying to figure out how to write about all of this (well, actually I spent that time editting Wikiepdia or doing chores around the house) I was a little late to discover that Jimbo Wales rebanned Brandt, apparently at Brandt's own request. I don't understand it. Nor does Jimbo. As one person posted on the Wikipedia: Adminstrator's Noticeboard/Incidents wrote, "This is getting sillier."
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
Saturday, April 21, 2007
For once I'm not too late in finding something out
Some are upset with his statement, and base their opposition entirely on his refusal. Some praise it as another blow against the tyranny of "process fetishism" (although I think it would be more accurate to say he is flaunting established custom). As for me, although I made a request that he consider answering at least two specific questions, I don't think this matters in his case. Those two questions are:
- What are your best contributions to Wikipedia, and why?
- Have you been in any conflicts over editing in the past or have other users caused you stress? How have you dealt with it and how will you deal with it in the future?
If another, less well-known Wikipedian refused to answer these two questions, this act might harm their chances to become an Administrator (or Admin); it is an often-demonstrated fact that some people are better able to flaunt custom than others. More importantly, his act leads me to two other observations.
Observation the first. Anyone who seriously wants to be an Admin needs to either answer -- or anticipate -- these two questions. While Wikipedia may appear to be a united community from the outside, from within it is clearly an aggregation of tiny groups and individuals, many of whom have no knowledge of one another. There is a good chance that an experienced Wikipedian may discover the Requests for Admin page for the first time, and find her or himself faced with making a decision with less information than that person would find optimal. Some troublemakers manage to keep below the radar, and except for the few who are able to devote most of their day to Wikipedia (who may not be obvious to the uninformed), may be able to bluff her or his way into an Admin position.
In other words, providing answers to these two questions -- either in the initial statement or in response to questions -- can only help everyone. This can build bridges into those parts of Wikipedia that otherwise feel themselves (correctly or not) isolated from or ignored by the rest of the project.
Observation the second. Answering these questions helps demonstrate just how skilled this Wikipedian is in an area that I now suspect has been taken for granted: ability at using language to explain oneself. This is important because an Admin will often find her/himself needing to explain or defend her/his actions. As I said, this is usually assumed to be a given (if a person is not good with words, then why would that person want to help create an encyclopedia?); however, there have been contributors with good intentions whose command of language is, to put it politely, suboptimal. And I know of one such person who managed to get her/himself appointed as an Admin: Betacommand, whose case is currently before the Arbitration Committee.
I'll admit right now that I have disagreed with him, very passionately. Yet there were other people who disagreed with me in that incident, and who showed that not only were they capable of working with me in that situation, they wrote far more articulately than Betacommand. He has gotten himself into trouble because he failed not only to communicate with other Wikipedians, whenever he managed to do so, his replies were brusque and unsympathetic. What troubled me about him was that when under stress, his command of the English language collapsed and not only did he resort to expressing himself with vulgarities, but he failed to understand why doing so was inappropriate.
So how did Betacommand slip through the cracks and manage to become an Admin? From what I can tell, he established his credibility in fighting spam, rather than contributing content. There's nothing wrong with that: people gravitate to the areas on Wikipedia where they are the most comfortable and have the most positive effect. Further, Betacommand did not nominate himself, so he avoided demonstrating his ability at persuasive language. Only in retrospect can one see the clues in his Request for Administrator rights: there are a lot of troubling ungrammatical sentences in his responses, with several obviously misspelled words. Discussion showed that he relied heavily on automated tools to make changes, and often was careless with those changes. Only Quarl and Alphachimp perceived these weaknesses, pointing out other examples of his work that troubled them, and were ignored. Normally, one or two oppose votes can be safely ignored; but here they proved to be Cassandras.
So to be an Admin not only does one need to have a minimum of experience on Wikipedia (e.g., a minimum of edits and time as an active participant), and to clearly show that one is not a troublemaker, but one must also demonstrate an acceptable level of skill with written English. Obviously this is not a problem for Sage (who keeps a blog and is a graduate student); but for other Wikipedians who do not have such easily verifiable proofs, this can be a fatal barrier to the ceremonial presentation of the key to the janitor's closet.
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
Thursday, April 19, 2007
A Surprise for Wikipedia
I'm still trying to sort this development out. I'll write more when I do.
Update: See this post for the rest of the story.
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
When Online Life and Real Life don't connect: in death
In that case, where someone has died, the people who knew her or him only from online interactions often never know why that person has fallen silent. Because it's not uncommon for someone to take a break from Online Life for a few days or a week without any notice, at least a week might pass before anyone asks the question, "Whatever happened to so-and-so?" Often all we know about someone online is only what that person shares, so it is entirely possible that why a person has vanished from the online world will ever be known: no one might know where to start looking for her or him. People who can write fluent English can be found in almost every country, not just the US, the UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. There are a large number of native speakers of English in India, for example. And even if one knows the real name and location of a given person, even a determined search may fail to uncover what happened to that person.
This can have more of an impact than simply leaving a number of Internet users with a mystery. Keith Lofstrom came to rely on the Open Source package Dirvish to backup and restore his business and personal computers, and when its maintainer, Jonathan Schultz, stopped answering emails or provide updates to Dirvish, it took Keith almost three months to find out that Schultz had died. Although skilled with computers, he admits that he is not a programmer but was forced to should the task of maintaining Dirvish. Keith discussed these problems as part of his presentation to the Portland Linux/UNIX Group on Dirvish. (While he had challenges, Keith pointedly notes, "Think of what a furball this would be if this was closed source, and the company producing it stopped supporting it!")
While it's hard enough for people to plan for the Real World repercussions of their own death, less people have given any sort of thought to the repercussions online. A while back, when I was faced with my own potential mortality, I did ask Yvette that if I die would she contact someone at Wikipedia to let them know. I hope that more people who do have significant online relationships or responsibilities make appropriate plans. (Now I need to deal with my lack of a will.)
Technocrati tags: death, internet
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Thoughts about language
- At the moment, I'm troubled by the tendency of my local media to use the dated slang phrase "rip off" instead of the simpler "rob". This usage suggests that the writer or speaker is insufficiently educated -- an impression I assume the local print and television reporters don't want to convey.
- Those "naughty words" people worry about (if I remember George Carlin's best-known comedy skit correctly, there are seven of them) likewise suggest that the user has a lack of education. There is a certain grace and humor when a person can allude to one of these words without actually using it; however, there is a time and a place for them. When any of them is used in an aggressive manner, it will always lead to offense and an aggressive response. In short, if you don't know why the statement "this is a clusterfuck" might not be offensive but "you are fucking stupid" is more so without the word "fuck", then you should avoid using that word entirely.
- It is never a bad idea to begin a blog entry attacking someone or something with the words "this is a rant"; those words warn the reader that vicious language will follow. If the post melts down into an ungrammatical string of words full of profanity, the reader was warned; if the writer makes her or his point without doing that, the reader will feel a minimum of respect towards the writer for having avoided that conclusion.
Technocrati tags: blogging, portland media, writing
Monday, April 16, 2007
Towns in Ethiopia - ugh
- Someone has come by and created articles for a town or two ahead of me. Always happy to discover that -- even happier when they put at least as much information into the article as I can.
- I've just been reminded that there are three towns in Ethiopia named "Addis Alem" -- only one of which is known outside of Ethiopia to any degree. So I made a series of edits to disentangle these three. At least I can disambiguate them on the basis that they are located in three different administrative Zones; next I'll have to do the same thing for two villages named "Edaga Hamus" in the Tigray Region.
- Then I discovered that some Somali nationalist decided to create several stubs for towns in the Ogaden with idiosyncratic spellings -- and at least one he claimed was part of Somalia. (I guess what they couldn't achieve by force 20 years ago, they will achieve with careful edits on Wikipedia.) Lots of moves and link repairs to untangle this problem.
And a note to those who can trace their heritage to Somalia: I do not have a conscious pro-Ethiopia bias here. I'm just writing articles, and trying to find verifiable information for them. If I haven't written an article that reveals wrongs in the Horn of Africa (and I have no specific group in mind here), it may be because I just haven't figured out how to get my head around the topic. Sometimes a subject leaves me depressed at the behavior of my fellow men.
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Tweaking the template
And if you follow the link attached to this image, you'll see that there are only three more opportunites for sponsors to contribute to this event.
Technocrati tags: BarCampPortland
Labels: portland tech
Thursday, April 12, 2007
A followup: An essay worth reading
The difference between this essay and the one David Gerard referenced, "Don't be a dick", is subtle but important. That essay is a warning about stupid behavior; Durova's is a guarrantee that one's stupid behavior will be uncovered and come back to haunt that person. The two essays compliment each other.
This ties back to the Essjay affair. From what I know of his record, in the beginning he pretended to have credentials that he actually did not have, and later was uncovered. Had Essjay, at some point after he proved to the community that he was capable in the areas he worked in (or even before), simply admitted that he made a mistake by misrepresenting himself -- all would be good. The problem was that after he lied, he couldn't help but lie more -- and to a reporter who was very concerned about credentials. His stupid behavior came back to bite him; I only hope that he has learned from this -- and so have anyone who might be misrepresenting her or his credentials.
Another example is a case (which Jonathan Stokes at Valuewiki drew my attention to) where someone stupidly offers $1500.-- to a blogger for writing a puff-piece about her/his product. Now about the only thing a blogger has of value (besides the ability to write intelligible English) is her/his credibility, and the moment a blogger accepts money for a pre-fabricated opinion is the moment that blogger loses credibility. So, is $1500.-- really a decent price for one's credibility? It's just a stupid offer, and can only embarass the person making that offer.
(I won't claim that I can't be bought; if I could find a way to make money from blogging without giving up my credibility, I'd do it. However, even considering the small audience my log attracts, my price for a pre-fabricated opinion is many multiples of that sum that person offered. And if I took that cash, the post they bought would be one of the last I'd add to the blog.)
Most people who attempt to bend a Wikipedia article to their way of thinking aren't very smart about it. They do things like insist on the same version of an article, typos and grammatical errors and all, without ever bothering to explain their reasons. When challenged, they resort to logical fallicies like ad hominem arguments. Or they force-feed links to their website into countless articles, whether or not what's on that website is relevant or even worth linking to. In other words, most of these people obviously act stupidly.
So let's say that someone wants to bend Wikipedia to their way of thinking. They do their homework, argue their opinions on Talk pages with eloquence, and perhaps even send small tokens of appreciation to various like-minded Wikipedians. By "small tokens", I'm thinking of $50.-- gift certificates to various retailers, say Amazon or a chain restaurant like Olive Garden; most devoted Wikipedians don't have alot of money, and I doubt very many would turn down a gift like that, offered without any strings attached. Is that unfairly bending Wikipedia to a specific way of thinking?
I say no. Debating your opinions -- even if you aren't a Wikipedian -- is not something the Wikipedia community is worried about. There are a wide spectrum of opinions on Wikipedia, and if you can present yours in an articulate and persuasive manner, well, that's what we want to see. If you want to send small tokens of appreciation to various Wikipedians, I can't see why anyone will complain; it's a very visible way a Wikipedian can prove to friends or family that her or his work is important. Lastly, anyone who will sell her or his credibility for $50.-- doesn't have much to begin with; and anyone who sells it for less than the equivalent of a couple years' income is stupid.
BTW, constantly using the word "stupid" -- as I have here -- is not usually condoned on Wikipedia. Even if everyone agrees with the opinion. But that is why I am writing this on my blog, and not in an essay on Wikipedia.
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
My project is finished -- this stage
At first I thought it would be fairly simple: arrange the data so I could feed it into a perl script that would do most of the writing, then after a little proof-reading upload the product. Maybe with a bot.
What I found was that finishing the output of my script would take a lot more work than I foresaw: properly arranging the neighbors, dealing with name collisions (I discovered just how many towns, woredas and other groups shared the same name -- often people, places or things unrelated with Ethiopia), and other organizational problems.
Because my script only delivered a couple of terse paragraphs, I searched for more information to fill out these articles. Most of the information that was easiest to find concerned natural disasters -- floods and famines. Despite Ethiopia's poverty, I knew that there are many other details that could be added before I turned to these; and how would an Ethiopian feel if the article about his home was mostly about one of the devastating famines of the 20th century?
One source was to study a map of Ethiopia I purchased on Amazon, studying the landforms: I made the discovery that many of the woreda boundaries were defined by rivers. While this might be considered original research, still it was an obvious and simple deduction. Besides, if my observations were correct the documentation to confirm them would soon be coming; if they were not, then proof would be found, my guesses replaced with verifiable facts -- and the end result would be the same.
Another source I found was that the Oromia Regional government had published useful survey of her woredas -- however, slightly less than half of the 180 woredas were covered. I'm not sure whether the omission was due to a failure to complete the survey -- or due to a glitch on the Oromia State website; I could not find contact information for the website. Further, the information was not presented consistantly. Some articles provided a wealth of detail about their woredas, some presented what they had in an idiosyncratic way -- and some were clearly missing chunks of text. And there was also the problem of figuring out how to present the information I had found.
Now after all of the work, the questionable decisions, and the ebb and flow of my enthusiasm -- it's finished. And it's something that only exists on Wikipedia.
And now to write the articles on Ethiopia's towns. I estimate that I have a little more than 800 left to do.
Update: After working through the list I created from data I used from the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency (their equivalent of the Census Bureau), the number of articles is actually 857.
Monday, April 09, 2007
A disagreement that means more than it seems
When this discussion/vote was closed, I counted 256 support votes, 118 oppose votes, and 9 neutral. A broad and deep collection of Wikipedians who have expressed different and conflicting opinions support his candidacy; I don't see any sign that one specific faction is attempting to exert its will over the rest of Wikipedia.
Perhaps the most bizarre support vote is:
In response to the rapid blocking of new users, Spammmer have an MO just like vandals. If we can block vandals for one or two edits (I know a lot of admins do this) if it fits a known vandalism pattern. Those involved anti-spam do the same thing. we see a lot of CIO and just pain spammers that wont listen to us or policy. Knowing these patterns we tend to act differntly if the case follows that of a spammer and not of a good user. (we also see countless companies promoting themselves on wikipedia also).
Nowhere in Danny's statement, does he raise the issue of vandals or spammers -- either for or against. No one asked him questions about these two groups. I'm unaware that Danny has ever made fighting these two groups a priority -- or has spoken against it.
The names of those opposed seem to break into two groups. One consists of a number of people I know little about, and I can't help but suspect are the usual malcontents who oppose anyone who's been associated with Wikipedia for a long time. The other group consists of an identifiable faction within Wikipedia, and a significant number of people who changed their votes as a result of the arguments of this group.
This latter group has been articulate, and sincere, in their belief that despite their best efforts their opinions do not matter as much as other Wikipedians; I think their opposition is more of a expression that they feel excluded from the decision-making than specific criticisms of Danny. Whether or not there is any factual basis for their belief, unless an effort is made to address this and make them feel a vital part of the project, their disaffection will end up harming the project. (Yes, I have been deliberately vague about their identities. I don't see any point in naming names.)
If I remember the rules correctly, Danny needs 75% support to regain the Admin bit; unless a number of the oppose votes are discarded for one reason or another (or the deciding Admin decides to ignore all of the rules and not tally the votes), it looks as if he'll get only 68% -- just missing the cutoff and fail in this. I think it would be reckless to discard opposing votes that because, by my count, too many of the support votes are simply "me too" votes: a statement which consists of little more than a username and the word "support".
The result is going to disappoint someone very greatly.
Update: The Bureaucrats made their decision; at least they admitted that people would be disappointed.
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
Saturday, April 07, 2007
An essay worth reading
She makes her point quite simply:
If you're getting ideas to bend Wikipedia for your own purposes then you are almost certainly devising plots that I have read many times before. And if you follow through on those ideas you will leave a trail of mistakes that is very familiar to a wikisleuth. Plenty of users before you thought the same tricks would be foolproof. People like me foil those plots all the time. We even have our own slang for the tactics. Attempts to manipulate this site rarely stay in the live version very long, but those edits do get archived in site histories. That should make you stop and think. Some people who've tried to exploit this site have ended up very sorry that they acted rashly.
There are a few points in her essay that need further discussion -- but I just drove home from Seattle and I'm too tired to do more than to tell folks to read her essay, and promise I'll write some comments about it in the near future.
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I don't understand this linking thing
I guess that shows just how much I truly know about Wikipedia.
Technocrati tags: celebrities, linking, wikipedia
The Ethiopian woredas: almost done
Despite my conclusion, it'll be a few more days before I can finish this list because I have to go out of town for my aunt's 90th birthday. (My father's family are very long-lived; I hope I inherited those genes.) I won't be able to work on these last handful until Monday at the earliest.
Then comes the sad fact that much of my information on these local administrative units is already out of date. Oh well. My strategy with these articles has been all along to do the best job I can on them, and hope that my work attracts the people who can do a better one -- as well as motivates them to do just that.
Technocrati tags: wikipedia
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
A guarranteed way to be permanently banned from Wikipedia
And besides, if you can't express yourself with words better than with violence, you're not going to enjoy participating in any Wikimedia project, let alone be a useful contributor.
Update: I just found a useful running journal about events following Sierra's post, maintained over at the American Center for Surreal and Paranoid Life. (As pointed out below, they're not otherwise connected to Sierra's misadventure nor to Wikipedia, AFAIK.)
Technorati tags: criminal behavior, Kathy Sierra
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Jimmy Wales at Reed College
This was the first event of the Reed group, which I had not heard of before. Hopefully, they can host a few more of this caliber.
Jimbo was dressed in a black jacket with a very colorful t-shirt, that almost looked like one of those tie-dye garments from the sixties, bearing a logo on it (all I could make out was the word "infra"). He started off on time after a brief introduction, made the assumption that everyone in the audience knew what Wikipedia was -- more students know about Wikipedia than their parents -- then launched into his presentation which ran about 45 minutes. (He remarked that when he gave the same presentation to an English-language high school in Japan, it took him 10-15 minutes longer because he was constantly interrupted by cheers and applause.)
Some highlights from his speech:
- He discussed both Wikipedia and Wikia. I had thought that since Wikia is occupying more of his time now, the online encyclopedia might be overlooked. However, he talked about both, especially contrasting how the Muppets are covered on both.
- He was uncomfortable with the idea that the Wikia search engine was in direct competition with Google. Instead, he explained that Wikia Search was intended to provide resources to free software developers, who tend to be hobbyists and graduate students who don't have the resources to subject their ideas into a real-world test.
- Wikipedia is demonstrating a large reach, with it being the 6th most popular website in Germany, 12th in India, 12th in Japan, and 12th in Iran. He reported that of the total pages accessed on the Internet, 6.19% were from Wikipedia.
- He mentioned the concept of three kinds of culture: Pop culture, High culture -- and a new Folk culture, rejuvenated by the Internet. He held up Wikipedia as an example of this Internet Folk culture.
I found the question-and-answer period that followed more interesting, in part due to the fact they captured a bit of how Wikipedia is seen in popular eyes. Yes, there were questions about Essjay, Citzendium, and Stephen Colbert. But there were also questions about China blocking access to Wikipedia, how the articles across the different languages are kept in sync in terms of quality and coverage, and about the problem of making money as a contributor to Wikipedia.
One specifically interesting answer concerned what lessons Jimbo thought Wikipedia might have for other online communities. Jimbo asserted that the Wiki philosophy drives people towards compromises: that for a Wiki community to survive and grow required a group consensus based on a shared vision -- which is not always the uniquely Wikipedian idea of a Neutral Point of View. He cited the example of Uncyclopedia, where the shared vision is that the content must be funny forced its community to compromise along that basis.
I only wished I had more notice so I could have gotten the word out better, but as Dmcdevit said, this was very much a last-minute event.
Technocrati tags: Jimmy Wales, Reed College, wikipedia
Sunday, April 01, 2007
A bit o' gossip
If you don't want to follow the links and draw your own conclusions, my take is that Danny's resignation was mostly due to personality conflicts. The sort of thing that happens when people work hard for something they believe in -- but there's never enough money to keep everyone happy. In other words, I'm just ofering links to some gossip here.
Sometimes, reporting that there's no story is a useful story itself.
Technocrati tags: wikipedia